If you ask Pierce County residents about the services offered at area libraries, the most common response will be “lending books.”

While that may have been the primary function of the libraries of yore, today’s libraries offer oh, so many services, programs and workshops that it seems as if they have transformed into education and entertainment community centers that just so happen to lend books.

We spoke with representatives from both the Tacoma Public Library (TPL) and the Pierce County Library System (PCLS) to get the low down on some of the awesome (and free!) programs that they offer to local residents.

“The library offers so many resources both inside and outside our physical buildings. Through Lynda.com and Universal Class, we offer classes on subjects ranging from job skills like basic computer programs to things to do in your free time like photography,” says Kayce Austin, customer experience manager for PCLS. “These classes are available 24 hours a day through our online platform and are free with your library card. If you live in our service area, but can’t make it into a library to get your first library card, you can even get a digital card through our website that will allow access to these resources immediately.”

Tacoma Public Libraries Employees 2
Tacoma Public Library System staff members who serve the Education and Job Center, the Reference Desk and the Public Access Computer Lab. Photo courtesy: Tacoma Public Library System

Beverly Choltco-Devlin, manager at the Tacoma Public Library system’s main branch, agrees that there are several programs available to patrons that they may not be aware of. She says that Tacoma Public Library offers programs that appeal to techies as well as creatives—and everything in between.

Official Microsoft Office Suite Certification Workshops and Certification

Did you know that you can earn your Microsoft Office Suite (MOS) Certification for free through either the Tacoma Public Library system or the Pierce County Library system? Certification testing can cost over $100 if taken at a commercial location, but through this joint project with Microsoft and Washington State libraries, residents of the South Sound can take the test and earn their certification for free by earning a score of 85 percent or more on a practice test administered by the library. Are you a beginner or perhaps out of practice? No worries—you can also attend free workshops at basic and intermediate levels, as well as self-directed study via free access to the Microsoft Imagine Academy and Lynda.com.

Please contact Beverly Choltco-Devlin at bdevlin@tacomalibrary.org or 253-292-2001, Ext. 1710 for more information on registering for MOS workshops and certification at the Tacoma Public Library. For PCLS, visit the PCLS website or call 253-548-3300.

TPL Digital Media Lab
Patron, participant and Digital Media Lab volunteer sets aide some time for gaming. Photo courtesy: Tacoma Public Library

Education and Job Resource Center

Are you working on a degree or looking for employment? Both library systems offer job and educational resources to help area residents. Specific job and education computers with longer session times allow students and job seekers more time to complete coursework, take exams and do vocational training. Special computer programs allow patrons to upload resumes and cover letters for review and practicing interview skills with a certified job coach are only two of the many services that can help you complete school or acquire new employment. You can also take job and education courses for the GED, SAT, Firefighter Exam, Cosmetology Certification, and many other tests, books, and certifications. You can access this vis the libraries’ websites, but call and speak with a librarian for more information.

Contact the Tacoma Public Library at 253-292-2001, Ext. 1710. Contact Pierce County Library System by visiting the PCLS website or by calling 253-548-3300.

GEEK WEEK Patron and Instructor
A patron gets his geek on during PCLS’ Geek Week. Photo courtesy: PCLS

Digital Media Lab

This is one of our personal favorites. Tacoma Public Library’s Digital Media Lab offers access and training to a bonanza of creative software programs and devices. Interested in making a short film about your neighborhood? Learn and use Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro. Maybe you want to finally record all those polka songs you’ve been writing over the years? Create and record your music in Logic. Then again, maybe you’re a visionary and want to create graphic designs or mesmerizing photographs? Learn the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite, which includes applications such as Photoshop, Lightroom and Illustrator. TPL libraries will also teach you about gaming, using drawing tablets and converting audio and video tapes to digital formats. PCLS also offers digital and technology courses, such as iPad and Cloud basics, 3D printing classes, website building and 3D printing.

Contact Tacoma Public Library System’s Digital Media Lab Instructor John Hargis at jhargis@tacomalibrary.org or 253-292-2001, Ext 1795.

Whether you’re looking for a better job, prepping for the GED or the SAT, wanting to earn your Microsoft Office Suite certification or creating your very own web series, you can not only learn how to do it at your local library, but chances are the library will also offer you the resources and equipment to achieve your goal.

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